Seventh Annual Student Academic Conference: An Interview with Diane Cosh, Student Art Presenter
By Vickie Moller-Pepe, student, Long Island Center-Hauppauge Unit; 2011-2012 student representative, Student Affairs Committee
May 18, 2012
Diane Cosh, a recent SUNY Empire State College graduate from the Hudson Valley Center, presented four beautiful and creative works of art at the 7th Annual Student Academic Conference (StAC) in White Plains last October. Cosh enrolled in the college in September 2008 after 25 years of helping her husband run the family dairy and crop farm and raising two children.
Her work displayed at StAC included a pink, black and white emotive abstract painting entitled “Passion,” a unique leather-and-driftwood wall hanging with designs she created using stamps; and a collage entitled “Me,” depicting various roles she has played and jobs she has held throughout her life. Cosh pointed out that near its heart, the collage includes a photo of a college graduate to emphasize how meaningful earning her degree at SUNY Empire State College was to her.
The focal work among Cosh’s submissions was her Navajo Indian weaving wall hanging, which she said was inspired in an art-therapy class. Cosh explained how the design and texture of the piece continuously evolved and the center pattern assumed its own form. She gathered driftwood from the banks of the Hudson River for its scaffolding and added a bow to complement the soft curves of her design.
“The finished product speaks of my style and taste, including the earthen colors, the softness and the rustic overall appearance,” Cosh commented.
Cosh explained that the technique of “interlocking weft” to create a pattern and produce a high-quality work of art originated with the Navajos and that the ancient art of Navajo weaving is both a highly respected and very therapeutic technique.
“The rocking back and forth motion as you weave the weft in and out of the warp is physically soothing,” she said. “As you focus on the placement of the weft throughout the process, you cannot give a single thought to life’s stresses; it takes complete concentration. Self-esteem also builds as the woven piece that you have created with your own hands comes to life before you.” She added that Navajo Indians treated weaving time as sacred, during which they did not speak.
Cosh is eager to use what she learned in her art-therapy class in her career as a professional counselor. She also would like to teach the therapeutic art of Navajo Indian weaving to various populations.
“There will definitely be art and weaving stations set up in my office or clinic,” Cosh said. “My vision comes out of my experience at SUNY Empire State College.”
She said that she was fortunate to have found SUNY Empire State College, but, just like so many other students she has encountered, initially she had no idea what direction her studies should take. To her surprise and delight, however, Cosh recalled that as early as her first meeting with her primary mentor, he was able to direct her into the area of counseling.
“When I spoke with him, he knew this was the path for me,” she said.
Cosh also pointed out that before taking an art-therapy class at SUNY Empire State College she did not know that she had artistic ability.
“My teacher was an artist who loved my work so much that she told me I needed to display it in the art show,” Cosh said, adding that the praise her work has brought has allowed her to see herself as an artist who simply needed to be shown the right outlet for her creativity. Now she is interested in exploring other forms of art to integrate into her work as a counselor.
Cosh earned an Associate of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in December 2010 and a Bachelor of Science in Community and Human Services with a concentration in counseling in November 2011 from SUNY Empire State College. Pleased with her academic and artistic accomplishments thus far, she said that for now she will concentrate on getting some experience in her field, but that she is open to furthering her education in the future.